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Hawaii Bans Sunscreens to Protect Corals

David Ige, Hawaii Gov. signed legislation on Tuesday regarding a ban on the sale of sunscreens which consists of two harmful chemicals that harm coral reefs. By signing this Hawaii becomes the first U.S. state that has initiated a ban on oxybenzone and octinoxate. Ige added that this is just a start towards restoring and protecting the Hawaii reefs resiliency. This all was decided in the signing ceremony of this bill which will come into effect by 2021.


This bill aims basically at two chemicals- octoinoxate and oxybenzone. These two chemicals are a basic ingredient in sunscreens which we all use nowadays. But we are unaware that this is very much detrimental to the sensitive coral reefs surrounding the islands.

Oxybenzone and Octinoxate results in a very bad effect on Hawaii’s marine environment and also on the residing ecosystems and these chemicals are mostly contained in the sunscreens, said the legislature. The bill says that this also affects the coral reefs that protect Hawaii’s shoreline. These two chemicals have caused destruction in development of coral as an increase in coral bleaching results in extreme stress and this is even at a temperature below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This also causes genetic damage to many marine organisms and coral organisms.

There is a ban on selling products having these two ingredients by skin care companies anywhere on the island, the bill stated. By 2021, this has to be effective except individuals with properly licensed prescriptions from authorised health care providers. They will only be allowed to have access to these products.

To protect coral, other efforts must be taken in the state which may include fighting invasive species, climate change and also pollution from land runoff, said Ige.

Those people who will be having a prescription from a physician will be given sunscreens containing both these chemicals- Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Except them, all others have to buy the sunscreens without the chemicals or they have to bring their own package of sunscreens when visiting Hawaii.

According to scientists, these two chemicals can be deadly to coral reefs and coral reefs are the necessary part of the ocean ecosystem. These are also a popular attraction for tourists.

State Sen. Roz Baker, the representer of the south and west Maui, stated that the bill has an immense significance because it will save coral reefs that are an essential part of the big ecosystem that is beneficial to the health of the planet.

Experts have reported that there are not sufficient scientific studies present that can support the statement that the chemicals hurt coral reefs.

According to the group Retail Merchants of Hawaii, this ban on sunscreens will hinder people from buying the sunscreens at mortar and brick stores.

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